January 14th, 2013 4:18am
Kissing Just For Practice
This is the first Belle & Sebastian song that I loved, and the second that I ever heard after “The Stars of Track and Field,” which immediately precedes it on If You’re Feeling Sinister. I bought the record in late 1996 or early 1997, I can’t quite recall when or how, but I was an early adopter based on something I read, either in Spin or CMJ. I bought a lot of stuff back then based on good buzz in print, which is strange to think about now – I mean, when was the last time you went out of your way to spend $18 on a CD of music you’ve never heard because someone in a magazine wrote a short blurb saying that it was good? I imagine that for a lot of the younger people reading this that has never happened once in their life.
At the time I first heard Sinister, it was absolutely unlike anything else in my record collection. The sound of the music was familiar, but just outside my frame of reference. It sounded smart and exotic and delicate and comfy and just a bit pervy, and the melodies were incredible. I’m not sure if I would’ve placed it at the time, but the piano part in “Seeing Other People” was an echo of Vince Guaraldi’s music for the Peanuts cartoons, but the lyrics seemed to flash forward to what could be those characters’ awkward, possibly homosexual fumblings in late adolescence. The specific experiences described in the song, of “kissing just for practice” and taking a lover “for a dirty weekend,” was never much to do with my own life, but this bittersweet song about these two people who can’t sort out the meaning of their intimate relationship resonated with me then, and still does today.
Buy it from Amazon.
“Listen Johnny, you’re like a mother to the girl you’ve fallen for, and you’re still falling.” That line stings. If it was sung from the first person, it’d be a pathetic “friend zone” whine, but this is coming from someone on the outside looking in. From their perspective, it’s a sad scene – some self-destructive woman who can’t help but to take advantage of some hapless man’s kindness, but is in no position to return it. But he doesn’t seem to care about that, since her drama lends some urgency to his otherwise boring life. Murdoch’s tone is sympathetic, but his concern is less for this guy’s broken heart and more for his lack of dignity.
Buy it from Amazon.